I would recommend Desolation for this sort of game, although you may not be interested in the game's underlying setting of surviving in a broken world months after the apocalypse.
- Extremely quick system to grasp and use, that definitely supports
rather than interferes with play (Ubiquity roleplaying system)
- Very fast and unobtrusive mechanics that use any even-sided dice you have
- New takes on typical fantasy lands and races
- Free-form magic system with a lot of color that is easily adjusted for how difficult/rare you wish magic to be
- interesting bestiary complete with nutritional information for hunting
- Character creation is simple and designed around the idea of establishing what the character seeks to achieve (and if you use the paired post-apocalyptic setting: what they have lost and how that has affected them)
- Available in pdf and hardcover, 2 supplements which cover additional rules for pre-apocalypse play and adventures of differing lengths and types are also available in pdf, no material outside the core book is required
I have run this with a group of players with limited RPG experience (D&D only) with 0 experience with the Ubiquity roleplaying system and gotten everyone up to speed during character generation followed by a few sample die rolls to demonstrate how die pools work compared to single-die Target number systems. Ubiquity is the system used for Hollow Earth Expedition (Heroic Pulp), Desolation (High Fantasy brought low), All for One: Regime Diabolique (Swashbuckling Horror), and Leagues of Adventure (Steampulp)
The greatest area of adjustment for players of games designed like D&D seems to be in adapting to free-form spell use. Players with experience of games designed like World of Darkness should not need much orientation at all.
Perks are that the game reinforces character development and expression in its XP mechanic and its die-rolling mechanics. Its XP system is similar to White Wolf's. It's die mechanic is enhanced to allow players to differentiate how much effort they are putting into a task through the resolution speeding short-cut of Taking the Average, and its performance enhancing system of Style Points.
- Players may opt to take the average number of successes their pool
would generate to avoid rolling for things for which a base level of
success (as relevant to that character)is acceptable.
- Its style point economy allows players to push harder for important
actions. Style points are earned through fulfillment of character and
The included setting is interesting, bleak, and challenging. It is wide open for GM creativity and development, and chock full of story seeds and hooks on many levels from simple survival to larger ones of social, cultural, nationalist, or religious import.
Lethality can be determined easily at the outset of play. In its default mode, combat is lethal and descriptive enough to be discouraging and does not lead to the typical 'kill everything you fight with' results common to many fantasy systems.
As the game is not class-based, character growth over time can be a reflection of exactly what your group wishes to explore in play.
My Experience in play
My campaign had a group of 7 players from very diverse backgrounds thoroughly entertained seeking out safe shelter, obtaining a steady supply of food and good relations with communities of other survivors, and steered itself in play into a great quest. Combat was usually avoided by careful planning, or by negotiation, but when it happened was quickly resolved (even at more than 2:1 odds) in less than 30 minutes - with novice players.